Good news: No flood problems! Now the bad news...


It's 1999, and this engineer pilot fish has been dispatched to investigate a flood -- in the upper floors of a building in New York City.

"Seems that at a major telecom hub in lower Manhattan, a cooling pipe in an upper-floor space let go, flooding the space of a very large telecom provider below," says fish.

"The telecom provider wanted me to inspect their equipment and report on whether there would be corrosion or other delayed effects from the flood."

So, first thing that rainy morning, fish takes a train into the city and walks to the building, which once housed most of the telecommunications in Manhattan but has grown into a large collection of data centers and physical layer interconnect facilities.

Fish knows the standard data center drill: Security guards, ID check, call upstairs to the person he's meeting, visitor's badge.

But not here. Fish walks in off the street in his trenchcoat and hat, pokes his head into a few doors and finally finds the customer's facility -- and is ignored all the while by the people working there.

He spends the next few hours pulling up raised-floor tiles, climbing ladders to look at cable trays and the tops of cabinets, and generally doing whatever he wants around lots of live-in-production telecom equipment. And no one says a word to the stranger with the trenchcoat and large briefcase who's poking around their equipment.

"It turns out this wasn't the first flood, and there were plastic sheets in place that did a pretty good job of diverting the filthy water from the equipment," fish says. "The feet of a few racks showed dampness or rust, but I couldn't find signs of any flooding in the comm gear. After taking some pictures and notes, I left.

"My report stated that there were unlikely to be any lingering problems from the flood -- but that the client had a major physical security vulnerability that should be addressed immediately."

Sharky wouldn't mind being flooded -- if it's with true tales of IT life. Send me yours at You'll score a sharp Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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